I've decided to explore new waters..or rather, lands.
My latest venture has led me to my childhood roots of my deep love of reptiles and amphibians. You see, I always kept many reptiles and amphibians growing up however as an adult I have only kept fish. For some reason I have been a bit ashamed of my love of herps as if they are childish and not as high brow as a group of schooling tetras.
Then one day at Aquatic Critter in Nashville I saw a brilliantly colored Tiger salamander lunge at a cricket. It was true love. I purchased the salamander immediately and dove back into my childhood passion.
At the same time I've been wanting to do an iwagumi style tank for a while now. I thought it might be interesting to apply the aquascaping techniques I've been inspired by to the vivarium setting. After some research I decided I could still make a land based iwagumi set up with my salamander provided I create plenty of retreats for her and the temperature remains cool (<75 degrees).
I should also add, that I love low maintenance. This way I can spend more time enjoying my tank. I also love the look of glossostigma elatinoides but I do not love my memories of trimming it! Every week I would have to trim it down to prevent my plush carpet from smothering itself. This is one thing I love about terrestrial moss. It stays bright green and doesn't require trimming. And of course it isn't fussy about c02 injection because it is already provided naturally in the air.
With this "low maintenance attitude" I wanted my vivarium to care for itself or at least minimize my efforts. Through a friend, I discovered collembola which is sort of the otocinclus of the vivarium. Collembola is a great little hexapod that devours mold and helps break down vivarium waste. Perfect when you're creating a living landscape.
Keeping with the low maintenance style, the moss seems happy under a 7 hour photoperiod. And believe it or not, I'm not having any algae problems! ; )
One of my utmost concerns was the safety of my salamander. My salamander always came first when designing the tank. Likewise, iwagumi setups often utilize large rocks which can be dangerous in the event of a collapse. All rocks in my tank are completely stable.
The fukuishi stone on the far left sits on the base of the tank. The mid most prominent stone, the oyaishi, sits on top of a large plastic tupperware container hidden beneath the rocks, soil, and moss. The far right smaller soeshi stone also sits atop the tupperware.
Using tupperware was great because it allowed my stones to appear larger by raising them up. In addition, the placement of the oyaishi and soeshi formed a cave which my salamander loves. But she really loves the hole I drilled into the tupperware which provides a larger, deeper, and darker cave for her to take refuge in.
Recently I have put together a video of my iwagumi tank. And I would be lying if I said I wasn't having a blast shooting the footage. It was fascinating watching her distinct behaviors and seeing her hunt across the iwagumi landscape.
Also, I've been just calling this set up "Dragon Iwagumi" but my friend calls it "The Dragon King" because it reminds her of Pride Rock from the famous disney film.
Anyway see her explore, hunt, and conquer.
-- and watch out for the battle scene!